S.Africa, Mozambique push to end Zimbabwe crisis

The presidents of South Africa and Mozambique met Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe ahead of the latest regional push for a power sharing government.

S.Africa, Mozambique push to end Zimbabwe crisis

The presidents of South Africa and Mozambique met Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe on Monday ahead of the latest regional push for a power sharing government.

A unity government, delayed over the distribution of cabinet posts, is seen as the best chance of preventing total economic collapse in once prosperous Zimbabwe, where prices double every day and more than 2,000 people have died in a cholera epidemic.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and Mozambique leader Armando Guebuza held talks with President Mugabe at Harare airport.

Thabo Mbeki, regional mediator and former South African president, travelled to a hotel where Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe were due to try thrash out an agreement to save a power sharing deal later in the day.

On Sunday, however, both sides appeared entrenched in their positions.

Mugabe said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change should accept the deal signed in September or end talks over its implementation, state media reported.

The MDC's executive committee said it would not join a unity government until all its demands, including the equitable distribution of cabinet jobs with Mugabe's ZANU-PF, were met.

The MDC called for "finality" in the dialogue, "either in success or in failure, because Zimbabweans cannot continue to be arrested by an inconclusive process", a statement said.

Commentators doubt the latest round will break the deadlock.

"Since they signed the deal, the parties are further apart and there is a strong likelihood of the total collapse of the political agreement," political commentator and Mugabe critic John Makumbe told Reuters.

"It is very likely that ZANU-PF will go it alone and form a minority government. It is also very likely that without an agreement, the humanitarian crisis will take a sharp turn for the worse."

Monday's meetings follow Mugabe hinting there would be no further talks with the opposition after the latest round.

Tsvangirai arrived back in the country on Saturday, the first time he has been in Zimbabwe since November. He has spent much of the time in neighbouring Botswana.

Tsvangirai won a presidential election last March but by too few votes for an outright victory. He pulled out of the subsequent run-off, citing violence against MDC supporters.

As he arrived back, he told reporters he hoped Monday's meetings would find a "lasting solution", but added: "The MDC will not be bulldozed into an agreement that doesn't reflect the will of the people of this country."

Reuters
Last Mod: 19 Ocak 2009, 13:37
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